The Department of Petroleum Resources ( DPR ) has explained why it was reluctant to shut filling stations selling premium motor spirit (PMS) to the public above the N145 per litre government approved price.
The DPR during a surveillance operation carried out yesterday across the Kogi State capital, Lokoja, explained that sealing erring filling stations at this particular time will compound the situation and add to the hardship of Nigerians.
Despite the hardship that the prolonged fuel scarcity has brought to bear on residents, many lament that where available, they buy at exorbitant price.
The DPR Controller in the state, Engr. Amos Jokodola who led his team on a surveillance operation to filling stations across the state, said some of the marketers try to shortchange the public through different means, including selling above the N145 pump price, hoarding or tampering with the dispensing machine, to undercut customers.
He warned that the new rules by the DPR permits for the shutting of erring filling stations for upwards six months, aside other sanctions that can be imposed.
His words: “Some are selling above pump price, but we are making them sell at official rates. It will be unreasonable to seal a station that has fuel, if the flout the official price limit, but we find a way to sanction them afterwards.
“We penalize them for infractions; selling above pump price and under dispensing…We have standard fine for infringements, but there is a limit to which we can accommodate. We seal your station for up to six months in cases, to serve as deterrent to others. In one of the stations, the deviation (underdispensing) read 10.3 litre, while the tolerable limit is less than half a litre.
“Unlike in the past, government has become more stringent with its sanctions, imposing fines ranging between N100,000 for infringement such as underdispensing and outright closure in other instances.
Our aim is to protect the public and not to compromise”.
At one of the filling stations along the Nataco junction, where fuel sold at N185 before the team arrived to enforce the N145 official price, one of the fortunate customers, Mrs Sarah Obaje, who spoke with The Nation, complained bitterly about the fuel situation in the state.
“It is biting on everyone of us; it has not been easy… salary has not been regular, and then for us to start experiencing fuel hike, is unbecoming. Most of the fuel stations are selling at N200 per litre, so when I heard this one was selling at N180, I rushed down quickly. I am a widow and things are not easy”, she lamented.
Jokodola however assures that the situation will ease, saying, “What we want to do is to intensify our surveillance, both daytime and night, to ensure that the marketers are not hoarding, selling above official pump price or perpetrating other forms if cheating.
“DPR will continue to do these until the whole process is sanitized. Our duty is to protect the interest of Nigerians”.